Academic journal article Sociological Viewpoints

2012 STUDENT PAPER COMPETITION WINNER: The New Boys Club: The Effect of Gender on LinkedIn Profiles

Academic journal article Sociological Viewpoints

2012 STUDENT PAPER COMPETITION WINNER: The New Boys Club: The Effect of Gender on LinkedIn Profiles

Article excerpt

As social network sites continue to attract millions of users, one particular site is gaining popularity among young professionals between the ages of twenty-five and thirty-five, businesses, and recruiters. LinkedIn is a social networking site created by Reid Hoffman in 2002 to connect individuals with job opportunities. With the majority of people being offered jobs because of who they know rather than responding to job advertisements, LinkedIn can be a valuable resource for people to stay in contact with their professional network. LinkedIn may be an even greater resource for women, who have historically been left out of the business dealings of men, because the site has no gender bias. Little is known about the type of professionals taking advantage of this new networking resource and how are they using it. This exploratory research examined the effect of gender on LinkedIn profiles, including what types of information and how complete the content was that users posted about themselves. The data for this research were obtained through a content analysis of thirty LinkedIn profiles. Results supported the hypotheses that women will have fewer connections than men, women will have more complete profiles than men, and women will have more female connections than male connections. However, the results did not support the hypothesis that women will have fewer recommendations than men. The findings of this study will be most meaningful to recruiters, young professionals, career development professionals, and gender equality advocates.

Introduction

With 1,400 people applying for a single position in Tacoma, Washington in 2009, job seekers must be wondering what they can do to stand out from the crowd. After posting an open position for a meter reader online, the Tacoma public-utility department had 700 applications after only one week and that number doubled by the time the listing expired after being posted for two weeks (Brodeur, 2009). According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 6.2 unemployed people for every one job opening in 2009 (2010). In a competitive job market, an impressive résumé' and a college degree are not enough for an applicant to receive attention from recruiters. Professional social networking is important for those entering the job market because it is the most common way people become connected with their future employers. Now that many people are connecting online, social media has become an integral part of job searching as well.

According to Kaplan and Haenlein (2009), social media is "a group of Internet -based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of User Generated Content," (p.61). People are no longer picking up a newspaper to read the headlines, instead, they are logging on to Twitter to see what the rest of the world is talking about. Instead of sending prints from her wedding to a friend in another state, a young woman may now simply upload the photos to Facebook to share with all of her friends. Help wanted signs are no longer needed because companies are now able to post job openings on TweetMyJobs, a website that acts as a job search engine that can send job postings to users' e-mail inboxes, smartphones, and Twitter accounts ("About Us," 2012). These are just a few examples of the impact social media is having on communication and sharing. Another form of social media, which is redefining the meaning of professional networking, is LinkedIn. This research will examine the effects of gender on the use and content of LinkedIn profiles by examining profile content such connections, recommendations, and personal information.

LinkedIn was created in 2002 by Reid Hoffman, an innovator with an interest in technology and communication. After working on projects such as Socialnet and PayPal, Hoffman wanted to create a site that would further allow people to brand and identify themselves online. …

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